With the season around the corner, Donelson Christian Academy is gearing up for another basketball season. While the boys’ and girls’ teams start action on the same day, their goals and challenges look quite different.
Donelson Christian boys look to take next step
The boys’ team looks to improve on its 14-12 record last year, and its experience will have to lead them there.
All five starters return for head coach Nate Johnson, who is in his fifth season at the helm for Donelson Christian Academy.
“We return a lot of experience,” coach Johnson said. “We have four seniors that are returning, and we have about six juniors that will play.
“So we’re still fairly young when it comes to that, but we are returning a lot of playing experience for this upcoming season. So I’m excited about that.”
Since so many Wildcats on the team have played in the past, their experience opens the door for Johnson to play a fast-paced offense.
“We’re going to be able to play a lot of guys,” Johnson said. “We like to get out and go when we can.”
Johnson wants to take a plethora of shots on the perimeter, and he thinks he has the talent to do so.
“I think we’ll have enough shooters,” Johnson said. “All of our guys shoot threes. We even have our post guys practice on three-point shots.
“I think at our level, that’s important. At bigger schools, you can narrow it down, but at ours, everybody’s got to be able to score.”
Junior point guard Ben Singer, a third-year starter, will continue to run the offense.
“He’s one of our leading scorers,” Johnson said. “He kind of runs the show as the point guard. We’re really excited about what he’s going to bring into it.”
Seniors Parker Howell and Jaden Carman should also have prominent roles in the offense, but it seems many players are going to get touches and chances to contribute.
The Wildcats finished sixth in the district last season but have their sights on a better finish this year.
“It’s going to be a very competitive district,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some really good teams, but I think have a chance to be in the top three or four, which would be great. That would be a great season for us.”
Opportunity abounds for Donelson Christian girls
While the boys’ team has years of experience on its side, this season marks a new era for the girls’ program in more ways than one.
Karen Singer is in her first season as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach, taking over for Bill Winfree after six seasons.
Singer has experience both playing and coaching on her resume. As a point guard, she was a four-year starter at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She gained coaching experience at the high school level in Virginia, as well as New York.
Singer has been with the school for nine years, and her husband, Keith, is the current headmaster. Since coming to DCA, she has been on a coaching hiatus but felt the time was right to get back into it.
“The job opened up, and we saw great opportunity for the program and for the girls,” Singer said. “We’re excited about working with the girls and developing their skills.”
The head coach is not the only change coming into this season. Three starters graduated, taking with them lots of points and playing time.
The two remaining starters, seniors Anna Shrum and Bailey Smith, are expected to lead the Wildcats both on and off the court.
Shrum, a fourth-year starter, was the second-leading scorer last year, scoring 7.4 points per game and grabbing more than five rebounds per game.
“Each year she has played for us and started for us, she has increased that number, but obviously, we’ll be looking for her to continue to increase that and lead us,” Singer said.
She has started since her freshman year, and Singer believes she will be the “anchor” for this team.
“She has great work ethic and is a great encourager,” Singer said.
Senior guard Bailey Smith will handle the ball some, but she will be expected to be a weapon from the outside.
Singer said, “She’s an excellent three-point shooter, and we’ll be looking for her to give us some needed points because we’ve lost so many.”
There are still plenty of opportunities for the other Lady Wildcats, including junior Sara McGlasson and freshman Adrionna Dawson.
Singer said, “I think for some of these girls, it’s just going to provide a great opportunity for them now to fill that role by coming out and showing us what you have.
“We’re excited to see what some of these girls who have been waiting in the wings will be able to do.
“The big theme is going to be opportunity. It’s going to be a year of opportunity for our girls, for certain girls to have a chance at defining us this year.”
Both teams will kick off the new season at home Friday against Nashville Central Christian. The girls tip off at 6 p.m. The boys will follow at 7:30 p.m.